EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 18, 2013

Former Salem school auctioned off

Building served town for nearly a century

By Doug Ireland

---- — SALEM — A piece of local history was sold on the auction block yesterday.

The former Mary Foss School, which also served as the town’s senior center and a home for municipal and social service offices, was sold for $309,000. The 89-year-old building was auctioned to Elias Kanj, according to Town Manager Keith Hickey.

Hickey said he did not know Kanj’s plans for the white clapboard building, which the town decided to sell because it was becoming too costly to maintain.

Hickey has said it costs about $25,000 a year to heat and maintain. The building needed major upgrades to its roof, siding and heating system, and contained potentially hazardous asbestos and lead paint.

Approximately 20 people turned out for the auction at 287 Lawrence Road, with several people submitting bids to James R. St. Jean Auctioneers of Epping, Hickey said.

Selectmen decided to set a minimum bid of $150,00 for the 7,479-square-foot building, which sits on 1.4 acres. The property was assessed at $410,000.

“I’m pleased with the winning bid,” Hickey said. “I think it’s a great price.”

The deal must be closed by Dec. 2, he said. Auctioneer James St. Jean could not be reached yesterday afternoon for comment.

Until the building was vacated last winter so it could be sold, it served as a home to nonprofit agencies, including Rockingham Community Action, ServiceLink and the Greater Salem Caregivers.

It also housed municipal offices, most recently the town’s human services department. The building, which opened in 1924, served as a school for several decades.